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Opposition Parties in West Bengal Meet EC, BJP Shows Video of Attacks on Workers During Panchayat Polls

While the underlying points put forward by the parties were relatively similar, the BJP played out a video for officials, which showed the violence unleashed on its party workers before the Panchayat elections in 2018.

Prema Rajaram | News18

Updated:January 31, 2019, 4:59 PM IST
Election Commission of India building
File Photo of the Election Commission of India building.

Kolkata: Anticipating a repeat of violence during last year’s panchayat elections, opposition parties in West Bengal — the BJP, Congress and Left — met Election Commission officials in Kolkata to access the ground situation before the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

While the underlying points put forward by the parties were relatively similar, the BJP played out a video for officials, which showed the violence unleashed on their party workers before the panchayat elections in 2018.

In its letter to the ECI, the BJP wrote, “So severe and pervasive is the sense of fear that in the recent Panchayat elections in the State, conducted by the State Election Commission, nearly 34% of the seats were won by the TMC, the ruling party, without any contest.” The letter also pointed out that 100 election-related deaths were reported.

The last few days have seen the BJP playing the victim card, pointing fingers at the Trinamool Congress for the violence that broke out at Contai at East Midnapore district on Tuesday after Amit Shah’s rally. Trinamool Congress, however, has denied these allegations and instead blamed BJP workers for vandalising their party office in Contai.

The Congress, too, highlighted that around 5,000 opposition candidates’ nominations were not filed before the Panchayat elections. The party also alleged that six of its supporters in Sagarbarh gram Panchayat in East Midnapore district were forced to join the TMC after being threatened by its supporters.

The BJP, Congress and Left also stressed on installation of CCTV cameras at all polling booths and that the footage be made public. The plea for free and fair polling was their main concern, with an aim to prevent the presence of outsiders within 200 metres of the polling booth.

Another common point raised by the opposition parties was adequate presence and functioning of Central Armed Police Force as, they said, people have lost faith in the state administration and police.

Trinamool Congress leaders Partha Chatterjee and Subrata Bakshi, who also met the EC officials, chose not to comment on the meeting. However, sources said that the TMC leaders were questioned over the allegations of violence and prevention of nomination filing during the panchayat polls and they refuted the claims.

Election Commission is also meeting top police officials and bureaucrats across West Bengal in the next two days to chalk out the modalities in the state before the upcoming elections.

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| Edited by: Zoya Mateen
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